December 27 – With Real Madrid having claimed a third successive Club World Cup title – and a fourth in the past five years – one Los Blancos star also made history.
Midfielder Toni Kroos became the first player to win five Club World Cup trophies, four with Real and with Bayern Munich in 2013, as Real as expected beat United Arab Emirates hosts Al Ain 4-1.
The hosts had shocked River Plate on penalties in the semi-final but never looked like following that up with a famous win at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi though they did have two glorious early chances to take a shock lead before world player of the year Luka Modric curled home the opening goal from the edge of the area.
Marcos Llorente hit a stunning 25-yard half-volley – his first professional goal – and Sergio Ramos headed in the third from Modric’s corner. Tsukasa Shiotani nodded in for Al Ain to become a national hero before Yahya Nader put through his own goal.
Al Ain’s defeat was tempered by the historic achievement in reaching the final in the first place, watched by almost 42,000 fans, having seen off the champions of Oceania, Africa and South America.
The excitement around Al Ain’s run in the competition is certain to heighten the sense of anticipation ahead of next month’s 24-nation Asian Cup also hosted by the UAE.
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